Walsh Jennings, Sweat win CQ

Kerri Walsh Jennings, Brooke Sweat Win Country Quota to get Into Jinjiang Four-Star

Kerri Walsh Jennings-p1440

Kerri Walsh Jennings meant it in the politest way possible when, on Wednesday morning following a country quota match, she said that she wants her and partner Brooke Sweat to be “the American killers.”

“We say that with all due respect, and just on the volleyball court,” Walsh Jennings said after her and Sweat beat Brittany Howard and Kelly Reeves for a spot in the qualifier for a four-star FIVB in Jinjiang, China, on May 22. “We respect these girls so much but we want to dominate, and we want to be the best team in the U.S.A. so this is all part of it.”

This journey to Tokyo 2020 has been unlike any of the previous five Olympics of which Walsh Jennings has been a part. She’s playing in country quotas, in qualifiers, in three-stars. She’s grinding up the ladder, rather than reigning supreme at the top.

Though competing in country quotas — a qualifier before the qualifier — is not exactly fun, “I very much appreciate the sharpening it gives mentally, emotionally, and physically,” she said. “To be the best you have to play the best. Every time we step on the court against an international team or an American team, it sharpens you, it hones you and it clarifies what you have to work on. They expose your weaknesses, they show what you’re doing well and then you have to go to work. It’s so damn fun.”

The fun will continue on Tuesday, in Itapema, Brazil, where Walsh Jennings and Sweat will be in another country quota, this one overseas. They’ll have to win two matches rather than one, which will precede the qualifier, and then main draw

“It’s so important to have strong domestic competition because mentally, emotionally, it’s a different match,” Walsh Jennings said. “It prepares you for the bigger matches on the world tour.”

On the men’s side, Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger won a pair of matches to qualify for Jinjiang, beating Theo Brunner and Reid Priddy and Billy Allen and Stafford Slick.